The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is seeking to amend the Noise Pollution Control Rules, 2001 (NPCR) legislation to allow their agency to address noise pollution complaints more efficiently.
The proposed amendment would reduce the time period required for the EMA to monitor noise levels at events: from three hours to just 30 minutes. This change would apply specifically to events that require a noise variation – a special exemption allowing for an event organiser to exceed NPCR prescribed noise limits.
According to the administrative record for the amendment of the NPCR posted to the EMA website, this rule change would help deliver more efficient monitoring of important sources of noise pollution to events that “employ the use of amplified sound.” This could refer to carnival fetes, outdoor concerts, political rallies and a host of other activities.
The administrative record describes the proposed rule change as “the most significant amendment” to the NPCR. Furthermore, it describes the current rules as “impractical,” citing the “limited number” of special reserve officers on secondment to Environmental Police Unit (EPU) of the EMA. It notes that only 20 EPU officers are tasked with monitoring and responding to noise complaints in Trinidad, while Tobago has only four (4).
Moreover, the administrative record highlights the fact that the majority of the complaints it receives from the general public about pollution are noise related.
Once the NPCR amendment enters into effect, the administrative record states that officers would be able to monitor and respond to a larger number of events in a given day as well as generate noise level readings more efficiently.
“The EMA has determined that a shorter monitoring period of thirty (30) minutes would be ample time to provide a valid representation of the impact of the pollutant and be reflective of the sound intensities experienced by the receptors.”
It attributes this to the fact that their recordings –whether they span 30 minutes or three hours– may not truly be reflective of sound intensities experienced over a period of measurement due to the dynamic nature of sound. The EMA takes measurements for the equivalent continuous sound pressure level (dBA) which represents the average of each interval of measurement during the period of monitoring.
The administrative record for the amendment of the NPCR was prepared by the EMA to assist the public in developing an understanding of the matter. It states that Minister of Planning and Development, Camille Robinson-Regis, is using the powers granted to her office under Section 26 of the Environmental Management Act, to pursue the amendment.
The EMA is currently inviting members of the public to submit written comments on the draft rules by emailing their Corporate Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the public have until March 26, 2021, to exercise this option.
How to Address Noise Pollution in Trinidad and Tobago
At an EMA webinar covered by Cari-Bois News on July 28, 2020, multiple attendees shared their experiences contacting authorities to report noise complaints, only to be given the run-around by government employees that were either dismissive, ill-informed or overwhelmed. Matthew Jardim, of the EMA Emergency Response and Investigations Unit, advised more than one attendee that the EMA lacks the legislative authority to take action against certain types of noise – in particular, noise emanating from vehicles. He advised members of the public that in any case where noise presents a nuisance, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Services (TTPS) can take action under Section 70 of the Summary Offences Act without access to noise measuring equipment.